Facebook suspends 'tens of thousands' of apps in privacy review

Facebook announced it had suspended apps as part of a privacy review as founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was visiting Washington for meetings on regulating social media (AFP Photo/Samuel Corum)

San Francisco (AFP) - Facebook said Friday it suspended "tens of thousands" of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review was launched in 2018 after revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The suspensions are "not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to people," said a statement from vice president of partnerships Ime Archibong, adding that some "did not respond to our request for information."

Archibong said the investigation "has addressed millions of apps. Of those, tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons while we continue to investigate."

The huge social network became the subject of intense scrutiny after acknowledging in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica misappropriated personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users as part of its work for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Subsequently, Facebook said it would begin reviewing all apps on the platform to determine how they used data and if they respect its privacy rules.

"In a few cases, we have banned apps completely," Archibong said.

"That can happen for any number of reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from us, making data publicly available without protecting people's identity or something else that was in clear violation of our policies.

"One app banned was called myPersonality, which shared information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place, and then refused our request to participate in an audit."

A year ago, Facebook said it had banned some 400 apps including one called myPersonality, which according to Archibong "shared information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place," and refused to accept an audit.

Facebook said a recent agreement on privacy with the US Federal Trade Commission -- which included a record $5 billion fine -- calls for additional oversight on app developers.

It "requires developers to annually certify compliance with our policies," Archibong said. "Any developer that doesn't go along with these requirements will be held accountable."